K.J. Noons Says Ground Attack Will Be Crucial Against Josh Thomson, Has Eyes On Rubber Match With Nick Diaz
By Stephen Florival
Days away from his first encounter with former Strikeforce Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Josh Thomson, K.J. Noons is focused on the task at hand.
Prior to his last fight, the 29-year-old San Diego, Calif. resident dropped back to back unanimous decisions to rival Nick Diaz and Jorge Masvidal, respectively. To mixed reviews, Noons, who has boxed professionally and traditionally relied on his hands inside the cage, switched things around in his last start against Billy Evangelista by taking the action to the ground. The “King” would reign supreme and walk away with a unanimous decision,with his all-around game to thank.
“The game has changed since I won a world title years ago,” said Noons. “To be the best you have to be good at everything. People are getting so much better so you have to be able to take it anywhere to do that. That’s why I kicked a lot more and this fight I look to show more things.”
Noons has pushed himself to take his game to the next level. Becoming a more dynamic fighter is crucial in reaching his aspirations.
“You never want to be described as just one kind of guy. You have to be able to beat different types of styles and different type of guys. That’s my goal”
Aside from pushing himself to be better Noons has recognized the ground attack as a key element when he meets Josh Thomson in Ohio.
“If I do get taken down I don’t want to be held down and let rounds slip away from me. I’ve been training out a lot of that, a lot of take downs and more working on the next step when I take people down. A little bit of everything.”
Style of attack isn’t the only premeditated approach by KJ Noons. Whether it has been calculated or not is up for debate. However what cannot be questioned is his prefight. In comparison to previous iterations, Noons has been more mindful with the amount of confidence he has shown publicly.
The unspoken storyline amongst both camps is the likelihood of the winner getting a chance to knock off reigning Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. Noons isn’t buying into what prognosticators think is on the line.
“I just want to go out there and instead of using my mouth just show my fists. I hope people are excited to see me fight. I feel like I put on a good fight every time. I train really hard, I just want to be out there all in the ring so I don’t talk that much. I don’t know who I’m going to face. I’m just focusing on Josh and we’ll see where it goes. I can’t get worried about all the side distractions”
Storylines are abundant heading into the March 3rd battle. The plight of both fighters poses yet another dynamic which may play a factor come Saturday.
A series of leg and various other injuries sidelined Thomson for the past 14 months. Despite the extended layoff, Noons expects an active, busy fight with Thomson.
“He has lots of gas in the tank. He’s got a great ground game, he’s great wrestling and I got to be ready for all of that. I’m ready to go in the fight wherever the fight goes. I want to be able to take advantage and be successful.”
Thomson’s hiatus seems even longer when factoring in this will be the 7th fight in under 2 years for K.J. Noons. According to the former EliteXC lightweight champ, his body has held up in the midst of the wear and tear and he still feels spry entering his next challenge.
“Knock on wood I’ve had back to back fights no injuries. That really helps out. You get to just stay in the gym, stay in shape and just get better. That’s how you win fights.”
On the line this Saturday will be an opportunity for K.J. Noons to take a step towards regaining his championship form.
“I have a lot of respect for Josh,” he said. “We had a relationship outside of the cage – spent years and knew this would eventually happen.”
One of the more prominent moments in his career featured his saga with Diaz in which the animosity between both men was palpable. Part one of their duet resulted in Noons winning the EliteXC lightweight title in November of 2007.
It would be roughly another 3 years before the two would hook up yet again with the southpaw Diaz getting the better end of the battle. In the words of Noons, there were factors at play working against him during the rematch.
“The 2nd one was a lot more intense,” he reflected. “Going up a weight class six weeks notice and fighting (near) his hometown then landing more shots. I felt I got the bitter end of it but I’ve got to just live with what the result was.”
When posed with the option of a third showdown with Diaz, Noons welcomed the opportunity down the road.
“Hopefully we finish the trilogy and lay it on the line in a third fight. Both fights were great and maybe in the future we’ll be going at it. You see your future and it just goes fight to fight. I’m a true fighter at heart. When you get your hand broke or something, you just got to keep pushing through. No excuses just get out there and leave it all on the line.”